in front of a clerk, in the gift shop fingering copper
and begging one warped triggering response. Since then
I've been stable, lonely as this town, the solitary river
moving north. I never stop here on my way to Coeur d'Alene.
I pass through hoping 50 years of shame will ripen
into centuries and all men understand. A feeble hope.
Even now I see their grins. I look away at mountains
and I pray all distance widens and I grow old soon. You know,
reach that age where no one wonders why I can't get women.
The worst thing is, I burn alive each day. A letter comes
from some ex-lover and I burn. I tell others she
is coming back to town and they say good, then things may start
again, and I say yes, and inside I am screaming "save me"
and she never comes. I went back to the petty compensations,
writing poems to girls like this one, hoping to imply
a soul worth having, hoping old timidities returned
are temporary and the sun will win. On good days, this
is just a town and I am just a lonely man, no worse
than the others in the bar, watching their lives thin down
to moments they remember in the mirror and those half
dozen friends you make in life who matter, none of them
after you are young. I remember being laid three times
each morning by a tiger angel and that didn't solve
a thing. I went limp to work, feeling like a man, but hell.
I was the same one. And the demons, when they came,
wore the same demonic green they wear in Ireland.
Once, I stopped in Italy, the land no longer torn
by war and wholesale poverty, some village in the south
for coffee. I wowed them joking in bad Italian
and they yelled "ritorni" when I drove away. That's the day
I must remember as the distance widens and I grow old,
not too rapidly. I am dating a 19-year-old lovely
and things slip into place, days I find worth having,
stops I find worth making, flashing some of the old charm
at the waitress and murmuring "ritorno" as I drive away.
And you? How are you doing? Wherever in the world. Rain
has washed grass vivid where we threw up on the lawn, and bars
we hid in have improved the lighting. Next time through
to Coeur d'Alene, I'll stop here more than just to mail a letter.
I'll send you copper, a pendant or a ring. And I'll joke
the clerk to roaring. I plan more poems like this one, poems
to girls, to tiger angels better dawns provide. The dark
that matters is the last one. Autumn's spreading like the best joke
ever told. And I send this with my best laugh, as always. Dick.